First step toward new Moretti's in Hoffman Estates OK'd

Schaumburg-based Ala Carte Entertainment is seeking public funds to help redevelop the former Metropolis Bar & Grill at the southeast corner of Higgins and Barrington roads in Hoffman Estates into a new Moretti's, and the former Lone Star next door into another of the company's restaurant brands.

Though Hoffman Estates trustees Monday approved a tax increment finance inducement resolution for the potential spending of up to $4.7 million, Village Manager Jim Norris said the Ala Carte Entertainment project would be eligible for just over $900,000 of the total.

The entire 22-acre restaurant campus there would contribute through property taxes.

As officials explained, the inducement resolution is the first step in a process to consider whether certain improvement costs on the sites can be considered eligible for reimbursement from the TIF district they lie in.

That TIF district, which helped develop the Stonegate Conference Center, was first created in 1986 but extended in 2009 until 2022. A TIF district limits the property taxes going to local governments and funnels that money back into development.

The campus, which at one time housed five restaurants at that corner, was originally proposed for several auto dealerships. But when restaurants were built instead, village officials declared it ineligible for TIF district reimbursements.

But now, with the Lone Star having been empty since 2007 and Metropolis having gone out of business shortly after taking over a vacant Max & Erma's in 2010, village officials are thinking differently about the prospect of helping stir redevelopment there.

"I think this is a great opportunity to move forward with these parcels that have stood vacant for so long," Trustee Karen Mills said.

And Mark Hoffman, vice president of Ala Carte Entertainment, said he, too, is looking forward to bringing new life to the restaurant campus that still includes a T.G.I. Friday's, Steak 'n Shake and Romano's Macaroni Grill.

"We're planning to move right away," Hoffman said. "We couldn't be more excited about bring our flagship, Moretti's, to Hoffman Estates."

His company owns several other brands, including Finn McCool's and Snuggery, but hasn't yet decided which to put in the old Lone Star building, Hoffman said.

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